Express yourself!

Woman! Be emancipated through your work!

Is there another way to be emancipated? Do women need emancipation? How about men, or are they emancipated enough as it is?

After yet another women-labor force-caring for children-work life balance academic discussion over lunch, I feel pressured to write down some thoughts.

I fear I’m starting to be labelled as “the one who stands against stay-at-home-motherhood” or “grave supporter of working mothers”. Then again, what’s so bad about that? I am starting to think that perhaps my stand in favor of highly educated, mostly PhD moms participating in the work force (preferably) full-time is being somewhat misunderstood as equalling a stand AGAINST other mothers who stay at home. This was never my intention, however, perhaps it would be easier to acknowledge the fact and stop arguing?

There is the question of “free will” that sneakily enters the discussion early on. Who could stand in the way of free will? However, I would like to :) In favor of the men, that is. I fear that by making the choice to stay at home FIRST (for however long), women are in fact denying their partners the right to choose for themselves. Inside the family, you must have at least one bread winner after all.

What if women are not as ambitious? Swell point. But what makes them be so ambitious in acquiring their education in the first place? Why study +/-10 years at the university just to obtain a “lesser” career and spend more time at home [than your partner]? I am simply all for equity and gender balance in the home and work place alike. Sure we need to give birth and recover from that, but it hardly takes more than a couple of months to do that. What is the logic behind the choice to leave the work place for another year or more, or to continue working part time (2-4 days per week) for pretty much the rest of your life, when your partner does full-time all through the small-child period, before and after? Equal sharing of child-minding responsibilities would be my target.

Perhaps acquiring the higher education in the first place puts women on a (s)lower “earning curve” which again reinforces the trend to stay in the home longer, due to financial considerations.  Bullox, I say to the financial constraints. Think of all the pay YOU loose by staying at home. In the nordic countries you get financial support for taking care of the child at home (public daycare being available only after 10 months of parental leave, or so), or conversely, one has to take un-paid leave as it is (if daycare is in fact unavailable). Thus daddies can stay at home just the same. Or how about paying for help in the home and continuing working? Cumbersome to arrange, perhaps, but an investment in human capital nevertheless – should really be called mommy capital in this case. Employing legal help in the home can also be rewarded in the form of tax-breaks in some countries.

We cannot express ourselves through our children (although my mother may disagree). Our aim in life may be to create a better world for them to live in, but hopefully also for ourselves. We live longer healthier, yet our careers don’t tend to last beyond the age of 60 or 65. It is said that active people stay sharper longer. Should be not invest in the future by fulfilling our lives with intellectual challenges at this stage?

I think men are just lazy if not supporting their partner’s ambitions. Sure it’s easier to leave the kid at home with the wife, but hey, do you want to spend your retirement years with a brain-dead partner who never quite performed to her full potential? Just think for once about the potential in human capital our societies and economies are missing in the form of women not fully (or at all) participating in the labor force. Just think.

One Response to “Express yourself!”
  1. emma says:

    The above post was written by the passionate natural scientist turned social scientist who lives in the NL, and suddenly saw with her bare eyes how far behind equity in fact is in the work place. She now calls out to all intelligent women and men to engage in the discussion and act to create a more equal work environment and society as a whole. For the record: Think of the post as a “what if”, and not as absolute facts.

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